• Server migration complete
    In the early morning of September 26, 2020, our migration to new servers was completed.
    Things seem to be working as expected, but if you notice any issues including not receiving email notifications,
    please vistit this thread for more details

Headlight Protection Film Anyone?

ProfBrown

Veteran Member
Joined
Jan 16, 2019
Location
So Cal
TDI
2015 GSW SE DSG
Has anyone used any type of headlight protection film? Mainly to keep aftermarket ones from discoloring? Road debris is one possible problem that these can also help. I am looking into it as I want to keep my aftermarket Ed's headlights from yellowing or road damage. I know 3M is a big name in vinyl wraps, and it seems that they offer some for the 2015-2017 Golf cars here. https://www.invisiblemask.com/imask/index.php?route=product/product&path=18075&product_id=36291
Another I found real quick is from here... https://www.lamin-x.com/precut-film-covers/vw-golf-15-headlight-covers.html

Anyone have experience with any of these products? It appears that they use some of the same materials for the clear bra stuff for body panels as well.
 

hskrdu

Veteran Member
Joined
Oct 17, 2003
Location
Maryland and New England
TDI
2003 Golf GLS 4D 5M, 2015 GSW SE 6M
I have used the Lamin-x pre-cut versions for all our our Mk IV's and Mk7's. The heavier films provide more protection, but are harder to work with than thinner films. Overall, it's fairly easy if you have the right touch and some patience. I highly recommend having a heat gun, it can really save the day for the heavier films. Try to work indoors on a warm, non-windy SoCal day. The online videos cover just about all the tips- most people go too quickly or try to "fix" every water and air bubble, instead of just letting the film settle for a few days. Most tint shops also install paint protection (including headlight protection), so if something goes wrong, the $35 investment becomes a lesson learned, and you can have someone else do it (for significantly more money).
 

ProfBrown

Veteran Member
Joined
Jan 16, 2019
Location
So Cal
TDI
2015 GSW SE DSG
I have used the Lamin-x pre-cut versions for all our our Mk IV's and Mk7's. The heavier films provide more protection, but are harder to work with than thinner films. Overall, it's fairly easy if you have the right touch and some patience. I highly recommend having a heat gun, it can really save the day for the heavier films. Try to work indoors on a warm, non-windy SoCal day. The online videos cover just about all the tips- most people go too quickly or try to "fix" every water and air bubble, instead of just letting the film settle for a few days. Most tint shops also install paint protection (including headlight protection), so if something goes wrong, the $35 investment becomes a lesson learned, and you can have someone else do it (for significantly more money).
Thank you for the quick response! Did you have a chance to look at the links I dropped above? I know the invisible mask link is for a 8MM thick film. I assume this is one of the lighter films as I've seen some 10mm and above. I was planning on doing it myself and while I don't have a heat gun, I assume my moms hair drying will do lol. And of course washing the car first. Do you know off the top of your head if these kits provide any sort of squeegee or pressing tool for the bubbles? Or any installing liquid if needed?
 

hskrdu

Veteran Member
Joined
Oct 17, 2003
Location
Maryland and New England
TDI
2003 Golf GLS 4D 5M, 2015 GSW SE 6M
I didn't look at the links yet.

I can only speak to lamin-x, as I haven't used others (except for a 3M kit for paint protection which was almost the same thing). Most lamin-x kits provide good instructions, the film itself, a type of hard plastic squeegee, and (usually) a small bottle for misting the car surface. Lamin-x needs only water on the car surface, to allow initial placement of the film, and no adhesive (other than that on one side of the film) is needed. Clean the headlight (or car surface), then wipe down with water and dry the surface. Then mist the surface lightly, remove the backing and align the film, and (when placement is good), mist the top layer of the film and squeegee according to the instructions. If using a pre-cut template, there may be tabs to be removed by exacto knife (knife sometimes included in the kit).

The heat gun is used to shrink certain edges to fit, where the initial alignment or curved surface of the headlight/car creates ripples in the film. People who are good at installing generally don't need it, but if I try to install without it, the job isn't as good. I tried using a hair dryer when I first used lamin-x on my ALH, but a heat gun (IMHO) works much better, and can be used for lots of projects.

The film can be warmed up, which allows a better fit when placing over curved areas, but as it cools you may get ripples, especially if you don't have a heater in your third hand. Some kits direct that you mist the car surface with a water/baby shampoo mixture to help ease of install. Too much soap will leave soap bubbles, and water generally works fine.

Thicker films obviously protect against larger debris, but are harder to work with. I can't remember the different mil thicknesses I've used, but lamin-x has gotten thicker since installing on my 2003, and I'd say I prefer the thinner film. Since I'm not a great installer, I prefer the better looking end result of the easier film, than the less than perfect appearance of (my attempts) with the thicker films.

The cheapest "kits" are not pre-cut, and require some good knife skills to provide a nice result. I have only used these rolls (usually 3M) for other projects (road bike, etc.).

Temps: Ambient temps have been the most significant factor in the success of my efforts. When I did my wife's GSW, it was fall in New England. My choices were either to wait until summer, allowing 6 months of debris to hit her car, or try the install in cooler temps. The headlights, door cups, and rear bumper (all easy areas) were the only things that turned out fine. The other areas, partially due to the curves, and partially due to the difference in heating plastic vs metal, were less than stellar. At least they have been protected, but I'll re-do them when I have the chance. I recently did the headlights (only) of my GSW. The first headlight was with warm temps and looks good. The second, only an hour later (I was also doing other tasks), was done after the temps dropped, and has small ripples at the base. If they don't go away, I'll re-do it later. The kit was $30, which I hate to spend again, but I enjoy getting better at it.

For most first timers, the initial result will have air bubbles and water bubbles, and not look so great. These generally go away over the next three days, if the ambient temps are warm. Otherwise, heat can be used to help out, along with a needle for stubborn areas. Some kits have tabs that allow you to pinch and adjust the film without touching the main adhesive area, this is nice, but I prefer the kits that have no tabs, since my attempts at smooth exacto cuts never seem to leave a nice line. The issue here is fingerprints: a lack of tabs means any natural oils on your fingers may transfer to the film: Just keep your hands wet and clean, and if time passes, you may have to continue to clean off your finger tips.


HTH.
 

BarryT82

Veteran Member
Joined
Mar 26, 2010
Location
Charleston, WV
TDI
‘12 JSW TDI
I installed Lamin-X on my daughter’s 2015 a few weeks ago. You’ll need a heat gun to get it installed properly. Get it lined up on the top edge, get the middle in place, and work your way around to the outside. It’ll be hazy for a few days, but it clears up. Don’t use too much soap in the water or it’ll be hard to install. I use straight water normally, but it stickier without the soap and hard to install. I plan to install film on the entire front end of my truck in the near future.
 

hooville

Veteran Member
Joined
Jan 13, 2003
Location
Marietta, GA
TDI
2000 Golf GLS, 2016 GTI, 2015 TDI Sportwagen S
I have used the Invisible Mask/3M film on 6 cars since 2016, no issues at all but only 3 1/2 years old. All lights look new, install was easy on all cars except my Niece's CrossTrek. We got it done but it was the most difficult install becasue of the complex shape. MK4 Jetta & Golf were easy: bought bulk film and cut to fit. Used pre-cut kits on 3 MK7 Golfs.
 

ProfBrown

Veteran Member
Joined
Jan 16, 2019
Location
So Cal
TDI
2015 GSW SE DSG
I have used the Invisible Mask/3M film on 6 cars since 2016, no issues at all but only 3 1/2 years old. All lights look new, install was easy on all cars except my Niece's CrossTrek. We got it done but it was the most difficult install becasue of the complex shape. MK4 Jetta & Golf were easy: bought bulk film and cut to fit. Used pre-cut kits on 3 MK7 Golfs.


I went ahead and ordered the Invidible mask ones. Seems to be the best. Ordered their top line one. Haven’t been given the shipping info yet. About how long did it take to arrive?

Also, any tips for the install since you have done a few golfs? Seems like a relatively easy surface to get on honestly. Nothing like some of the wonky headlights now a days. A smooth curve.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

hooville

Veteran Member
Joined
Jan 13, 2003
Location
Marietta, GA
TDI
2000 Golf GLS, 2016 GTI, 2015 TDI Sportwagen S
Sorry for the delay, crazy week at work. Best tips I have are to watch a couple of videos to get comfortable with the steps, clean the headlights and the adjacent parts of the hood/fenders thoroughly and them clean them again! Then check the lenses carefully with a good light and clean 'em again! :D
I found it easier to work left to right but YMMV. The MK7 headlights were easy, take your time & pull the film off and start over if you have to: the first light i did i started over 3 times before i figured out holding and stretching slightly, and i can't tell a difference now.
 

06bluebeetletdi

Veteran Member
Joined
Sep 30, 2012
Location
Middlesex, NC
TDI
'14 Passat TDI SEL and '13 Beetle TDI
I installed lamin-x on the beetle and passat (headlights, fog lights and parking lights on the beetle). The passat was much easier, but both turned out nicely.
 

BarryT82

Veteran Member
Joined
Mar 26, 2010
Location
Charleston, WV
TDI
‘12 JSW TDI
My daughter’s car was hit last week and the suv that hit it left rubber from the tire on the lamin-x film. I don’t think that it broke the film. Their film is very think compared to others. I have a picture, but it’s not hosted anywhere at this time.
 
Top